Mutual Exhibit 2017


In Mutual, Tanya Slingsby and Christine Breakell-Lee - who both work out of a joined studio space in the historic 1000 Parker building - engage in a shared creative conversation about the intersection between the personal and transcendental potential in abstract art. Each has her own loyalties and influences and way of communicating the visual language of abstraction. But Slingsby and Breakell-Lee are equally determined to express abstract art’s fundamental power to provoke memory and emotion and enhance our awareness of the primal energies still contained in forms and colours and the spatial relationships between them. The exhibition is potent and intriguing and expressively beautiful.

For Breakell-Lee, her paintings serve as visual explorations of her moods and curiousities over the course of a single day as if a colourful diary of private dramas. Each piece is approached intuitively, without prior planning, which allows her the freedom to act “without rules”. Preferring not to use brushes, Breakell-Lee works mostly with her hands and fingers which lends the work a more tactile intimacy. Her mark-making is instinctual, a tangled tussle of feelings and memories that matter to her. In the blooms and drifts of her lush shifting colours, their openness and breathing sense of expansion, Breakell-Lee is evidencing her own emotional experiences and allowing the sensuality of her awareness to break through. Her work feels cathartic, lyrical and alluring. By leaving parts of the wood surface exposed so the raw element of the grain comes through, she reveals the authentic truth of her materials. But the smooth top coat of resin encases each piece as if a nostalgic relic, the wonder sealed in.

For Slingsby, her work is a means of engaging the primal force in the human condition, the way we still respond to shapes and colour in a profound, head-rattling way. As a pure formalist, Slingsby isn’t trying to convey her own narrative or ego through the work. Instead, her surfaces alone are intended to speak volumes about abstract art’s universal relevance and vitality. For Slingsby, it’s “the meditative and reverential power” of non-representational art that matters most. The swirling, looping, brightly-jewelled paintings in her Meridian series have the spiritual impact of stained glass windows told in abstract form. And her carefully-crafted pieces using proprietary pigment emulsions appear like timeless symbols that escape easy meaning. Enclosed in layers of supple Titanium white, Slingsby’s evocative colours stand out as wondrous and mesmerizing. They act as compelling visual devices intended to spark self-revelation in a viewer. Slingsby’s work here is sublime.

Barry Dumka, bccreativehere.com